It's the Big One
Everybody loves a top 10 list, and here at Awkward Machine we’re no different, well a little different for you see we decided to go one better and give you, Our top 30 games ever, that’s at least three times better than the competition! Please remember these are our personal choices, games we found fun, chosen by a rather sketchy lottery algorithm I slapped together one Friday afternoon
Number 30 - Dark Souls
The spiritual successor to 2009’s Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls might have toned down the brutal difficulty but made up for it with solid mechanics, jaw dropping visuals, and some of the best examples of ‘show don't tell’ storytelling seen in gaming. Still yet to be surpassed by any of it’s successors, Dark Souls is a true modern classic.
“The souls series needed to exist, It separates the men from the boys, anyone who says the souls games aren't punishing is a fucking retard and needs to reassess their life” - Nick
“I liked the sunshine man and the big bird, but the spiders scared me” - John
“this game is too damn hard” - filthy casuals
Number 29 - The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind
Still king of The Elder Scrolls, Morrowind introduced the modern Elder Scrolls format, with a smaller more detailed world, detailed lore and gorgeous landscapes. These combined to give one of the most memorable settings of any RPG, and has kept us coming back time after time.
”This game, this world, that tune. Also leveling up acrobatics to the level of insanity from jumping everywhere… “- Adam
” Limitless, infinite abyss of content. You will never truly finish this game“ - Nick
Number 28 - The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
When I first saw The Witcher on shelves I was more that a little curious, a huge fantasy RPG from a company I’d never heard of, based on a source material I’ve never read, it was a chance for a breath of fresh air in my games library. Turns out it was a buggy, system-killing mess, with some of the most laughable voice acting since the original Resident Evil. However the developers CD Projekt Red persevered, first fixing their debut title, then going on to become one of the finest dev studios on the planet. Wild Hunt is the culmination of their efforts, and the worthy jewel in their crown. Not only is it a stunning technical achievement, but it’s characters, plot and mechanics add this to the ever improving decision/consequence system and you have one of the finest examples of the genre.
“In the age of microtransactions, pay to win and the growing cancer that is EA games, this game is the shiny shiny light and is what the true gamer has been asking to make video games. ‘fun adventures’ and not shitty who-buys-more wins”. - Michael
“Gwent” - Nick
Number 27 - Baldurs Gate II: Shadows of Amn
Considered the greatest CRPG of all time, and for good reason. Taking lessons learned from decades of rpg development, Baldurs Gate II is simply the best D&D rpg ever made, period.
"The last and greatest titan of the CRPG's BG2 is one of the few games that will never be surpassed, only met" - John
"It's a game" - Adam
Number 26 - Kerbal Space Program
Who would’ve thought failure would be such fun. Squad’s simu-space sandbox proves that while rocketry is simple in concept, it’s a fiddly bastard in practice. More fun than you can shake an SRB at Kerbal Space Program has driven many members of Awkward Machine to madness, laughing all the way.
“Many many kerbals have died but the system is now ours because of their sacrifice for science” - Adam
“A realistic and scientifically credible avenue for Powerballing-Aerodynamics” - Jake
Number 25 - Shadow Of The Colossus
Whenever you need to convince a non-gamer that video games can be art. Shadow of the Colossus is the arrow in your quiver of righteousness, Unlike anything else out at the time of its release and still a standout title in terms of gameplay, world/boss design and overall setting.
Number 24 - Grim Fandango
Grim Fandango is one of those unforgettables, there's simply nothing like it. A 50’s crime thriller set in an Aztec-Deco afterlife, Grim is also notable for having only a handful of impossibly obscure puzzles (a rarity in the genre). It’s fantastic cast and excellent writing push and pull you through it’s quirky narrative all the way to it’s heart wrenching ending. Even if you're not an adventure fan Grim is a must play, there's nothing like it.
“When first played Grim I laughed because it had skellies, when I was older I laughed because I got the jokes…” - John
Number 23 - Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
How do you follow the open-world crime sandbox which turned the console world on it’s head? Do it all again, in the vein of a Michael Mann show! Set in a neon soaked, cocaine stuffed 80’s Miami Vice City gifted the franchise with its first speaking protagonist, it’s first proper soundtrack, and it’s first chainsaw. Though it was less ambitious than it’s more boring siblings, Vice City still stands out as the peacock among the hens for the GTA3 trilogy.
“It's not San Andreas but it will do” - Michael
“I have fond memories of coming home from school to find a shiny new PS2 and Vice City sitting on the couch, even after SA, Vice City has always been my favorite GTA, then being old enough to realise Ray Liotta voices Tommy Vercetti only strengthened the bond” - Nick
Number 22 - Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3
Probably the best Dragonball Z fighting game made to this day, The Cell shaded anime style remained faithful to the anime and has also aged quite well. The campaign is almost not worth mentioning, just reliving the great fights of the sagas all the way through to GT, though it served as a good introduction to the combat and controls.
The game really shines through in its old school couch based splitscreen multiplayer. Wicked fast combos. Stupidly over the top energy attacks and crazy supers in often ends in heated arguments and bullets sweated as it comes down to the wire. Still love it to this day.
"Almost got into fist fights arguing over wins and losses 10/10 fighting game" -Adam
Number 21 - MediEvil
Famous for it’s Burtonesque visuals, dry humor, and horrendous controls. MediEvil is quite possibly the Playstation's most unique platformer, if not one of the most original. MediEvil puts you in the rattly boots of Sir Daniel Fortesque, an undead coward whose history is painted as a coward. With the return of his arch nemesis, Dan is forced to hack and slash his way through Graveyards, Villages, Asylums, Anthills, a Time Machine, and -DID I TELL YOU THIS GAME WAS COOL OR WHAT!! Long story short MediEvil is a must play for anyone even remotely familiar with the PSX
“So much wit and charm I revisit this game often” - Michael
“Got really wasted one night and watched Adam and John finish this game, looks like a fun time” - Nick
”All I want out of this console generation is Medievil 3….” -Adam
Number 20 - Crash Bandicoot
Dateline 1996 Sony desperately need their own Sonic and are in need of a BIG response to Mario 64 which came out in the same year. Enter Crash Bandicoot. Witty, Charming, Funny and damn right fun to play and a huge step up in platformers. Graphically and sound-wise it was well ahead of its time compared to pleb-tier Mario another masterpiece from Naughty Dog, Sony tried to brush it under the carpet and say that it wasn't Sony's response to Nintendo’s Mario but it was very hard to not make comparisons. All in all a great game, fun challenging levels and funny.
“Opened the door for gems like Spyro, Croc, Ape Escape Ratchet and Clank, Jak & Daxter Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee and Tomba to name a few” - Michael
Number 19 - Rocket League
The best sports game since Speedball 2, Rocket League is Psyonix’ follow up to their convolutedly named ‘Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars’ where you play football with rocket cars. Yep it’s that simple, football with cars. It also happens to be fast frenzied and incredibly fun, with room for amateurs and pros alike, both deceptively simple and highly finessed, Rocket League is a LAN favorite and our number 19.
“A LAN classic even playing field gripping action from start to finish oodles and oodles of fun ” - Michael
Number 18 - Riven
MYST usually ranks quite high on people’s adventure games lists, it shouldn’t, MYST was shit. Riven on the other hand was a masterpiece. Dumping you on a series of small Islands Riven wasn’t some grand puzzle to be solved like the other titles in the series It was a living breathing world, there were no ‘keys’ just artifacts and objects. A masterclass in worldbuilding and the worthy jewel in the crown of adventure gaming, Riven is our favourite Adventure game.
"The location is grander, the plot more exciting, the storytelling more intimate. Riven simply outclasses every other game in the series" - John
Number 17 - Resident Evil 4
The Reze series has never been one for tone, RE1 had you fight your way out of a Sam Raimi style mansion, with giant snakes, spiders and terrible voice acting all the way. However over the course of the series Capcom tried to sober things up leaving us with the boring convoluted mess that is Resident Evil today. RE4 on the other hand is the jewel that shines in the darkness, putting players firmly back in crazytown, and ramping up the gameplay.
“RE4 was the change the series needed, sure 1,2,3 were great in their own way. But RE4 was a culmination of all the series’ strong points whilst also pushing the boat out for the better, of course it was responsible for RE5 and 6 but that's another conversation for another time, for now just remember the first 15 minutes of RE4 and grin with glee” - Nick
Number 16 - Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
MGS is a curious beast, it’s one part action, one part stealth, and ninety eight parts terrible unrelenting babbel. Part of the problem is Kojima’s relentless commitment to keep EVERYTHING cannon, leading to the multi headed hydra that MG’s plot has become. So it’s no surprise that this stripped back prequel is the best of the bunch, throw in fun gameplay a (semi) open world and a cold-war/sci-fi setting and you get the best game he’s made since SNATCHER.
“A big step in stealth games; very ambitious. But was backed up with a great story, survival, shooter and stealth elements” - Michael
“THANK FUCK IT'S NOT TWIN SNAKES!” - John
Number 15 - Counter Strike
The undisputed king of 2000's multiplayer and possibly the greatest mod ever made, Counter Strike bunny hopped onto our beige boxes back in 99' and has been here ever since. Starting life as a mod for the original Half-Life, Counter Strike has seen a number of revisions over the years, but it's fantastic twitch shooting has always been the same. It's longevity is equally matched by it's prevalence, this game is played everywhere, from roadside internet cafes to massive e-sports events and if it weren't for one quirk of history it'd be our number one twitch shooter.
“A game I’m no good at because I wasn’t born Russian” - Jake
"CS will never die, I bet even at the heat death of the universe there'll still be a Dust2 server up" - John
Number 14 - Tekken 3
Tekken 3 is the standout of the series. This game goes from a childish arcade game to a serious competitor, to a Street fighter series with the best fluidity of moves sets and mastering combos variety of all the characters, music, sound effects are top notch at the time and even some fun mini modes.
“Tekken 3 was the first game where based Hwoarang was introduced, also the first time Eddy Gordo, the ‘legal cheat engine’ was introduced….. X & O = You Win, none the less a great Tekken game” - Michael
"I was never big on Street Fighter, it seemed to clinical, Tekken was always more rhythmic, more natural, more fun!" - John
Number 13 - Fallout 2
Very few of us here at AM have actually played any of the pre-thesda Fallout's, and only one has finished any of them. However none of us can deny the impact Black Isle’s post apocalyptic RPG had on the genre. Much like Baldur’s Gate, it’s Fallout’s sequel that rules the roost, it had tighter mechanics, a better plot, and the same fantastic characters that made the first one a legend. At least ten times more sombre and quirky than anything Bethesda has ever attempted, Fallout 2 is as good as it gets.
“Baldurs Gate II was the RPG world’s ‘Pink Floyd moment’, that would make Fallout 2 Chuck Berry” - John
“I played it after I played Fallout 3… I believe this was a bad move. I will never get to experience this in its prime.” -Adam
Number 12 - Diablo II
Scary as fuck spooky setting and the monsters were truly horrifying at the time. 3 years after Diablo 1 it was at the time one of the most hyped games to come out and it didn't fail to deliver a great game. Diablo has a lot of replay value, a great dungeon crawler it’s gameplay is mainly smash monsters get treasure but it's the way it delivers this with the setting, hard bosses and horrifying sounds that makes it an absolute classic.
“Game has aged poorly but still great gameplay makes for a great LAN game” - Michael
“Diablo 2 has aged excentley, but is often infuriating at LAN’s” - John
“I got up to the desert part - which isn't very far. Then my save corrupted. 10/10 would play again” - Nick
Number 11 - Hitman Blood Money
Everyone familiar with the Hitman series will know that each of the games try to bring something new to the table in one way or another. whether it be updated mechanics, polished visuals or a deeper focus on story. Blood Money was the Hitman game that got everything right, the contracts were the first in the series to truly perfect the sandbox assassination formula that Hitman was always striving to achieve, sure this was taken a step further in the follow up instalment Hitman: Absolution, and the recently released Hitman(2016) is pushing the series even further. But fans of the barcode will always have a special place for Blood Money. Also that Epilogue was siiiiiick.
Number 10 - DOOM
Doom set the standard for the FPS genre, 1993 was a strange time for vidya but it was Doom that assured gamers that their medium was heading in the right direction. Still having an active fan base and countless mods being developed to this day, Doom is a game that ages gracefully, like your mother.
Number 9 - Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 was the true Silent Hill, no other installment came close. It didn't cop out with any of that cult bullshit and didn't try to insult you by throwing countless jump scares your way. Instead this game makes you look inside James Sutherland to see the real demons that he's fighting. Silent Hill is the true dystopia because instead of putting a skeleton in a closet to give you the willies. The story takes a look at the evils that exist within man and externalizes them into the enemies you face and the lost people you find wandering the foggy corridors of Silent Hill. My fucking god Japan does horror right and this game is the poster boy for that fact.
“People say this is the best in the series, it’s actually the best in the genre” - John
Number 8 - Unreal Tournament 2004
In the golden age of arena shooters one series seemed to rule supreme, Quake. But in 1999 Epic Games released their multilayer spin-off for their earlier title Unreal, Unreal Tournament. Whereas Quake was tightly focused on deathmatch UT brought a whole host of gametypes to the fray, CTF, Assault, Domination. The weapons were quirky and fun (seriously who doesn't dig the flak cannon), and their was a huge variety of maps, it was the complete package! But most importantly for us here in NZ, it had a flippin software renderer, meaning any man and his toaster was able to play it. For us the series peaked with UT2004, but we've got high hopes for the new beta. Always a classic at LAN's Unreal Tournament will always shine on as Quake's more colourful interesting cousin
Number 7 - Kingdom Hearts 2
The follow up from Kingdom Hearts picks up where the GBA game chain of memories picks off.
KH2 took the original to the next level improving its combat, story, worlds and removing some of the more annoying aspects of movement and interaction (Thank you analog stick camera control). Once again follow Sora, Goofy and Donald through various Disney worlds on the gummi ship and save the multiverse from the nobodies and the organization 13 threat. Loved by many and hated by some it is still one of the most highly acclaimed PS2 titles to this day, Still looks bloody good pushing on 10 years too. (Bring on KH3)
Number 6 - Fallout 3
Fallout 3 sits in a strange position with us. For some of us it's the best in the series, and for one of us it's the worst bar that crappy Brotherhood Of Steel game (you know the Xbox one). But there's no denying one thing, Fallout 3 kicked the long sleeping series back into life. Without it we wouldn't have New Vegas, or the fantastic mod community it's sparked we wouldn't have Fallout. Fallout 3 has a very different feeling from its Black Isle predecessors, some would say it's a lighter experience one that doesn't quite drag you through the mud as much. It's also a far easer shorter game, but as much as we can knock it, there's no hiding our enormous playtimes.
"For the first time in my life I had a Dad" - Jake
"Bongo bongo bongo I don't want to leave the congo, oh no no!" - Adam
Number 5 - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
An in your face game with a big attitude and the best setting,the best music and the biggest variety in a GTA game. It’s the most well rounded GTA , HUGE map, 3 great cities and countryside to explore, GTA 3 created the formula, Vice City created the style. San Andreas mastered them both and blew up to a massive scale to make one of the most popular and best selling games of all time.
“Played through it so many times It never left my PS2 disc tray, then i bought it on PC and re bought in on PS4 because it's just that fun”- Michael
“Needed more Ray Liotta" - Nick
Number 4 - Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance
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Number 3 - Half Life 2
Boiling down HL2’s enormous legacy was always going to be difficult, very few if any games had such an impact on graphics, writing, gameplay, level design, and modding. Being born with one helluva silver spoon in it’s mouth, we knew the followup to Valves 1998 masterpiece was going to be big, we just had no Idea HOW big. Every part was tightly designed, the guns exquisite, the characters seemed real, and the level design was a brilliant amalgamation of creative layouts and fantastic worldbuilding. Although the source engines tools were badly lacking, Valve once again opened the engine up to the community, spawning an enormous mod community. For most of the AM team HL2 was a massive chunk of their teen’s, Judging HL2 on its own , it was a masterpiece, judging it on everything else, hell it was a goddamn movement.
“I remember getting FEAR and Half Life 2 gifted to me ‘legally' from my mums work friend, even my 13yo self knew there was something special going on here. 2004 was a groundbreaking time for vidya and Half Life 2 was the shining lighthouse in a raging torrent of uncertainty. Now give us Half Life 3 you twats" - Nick
Number 2 - Thief II: The Metal Age
2000 was a big year for Looking Glass studios. Mainly because sadly that was the last year they’d be making games, but also because like the string quartet at the end of Titanic, this studio still had one last song to play before their ship sunk into the briny depths. Thief 2 was this song and there's a damn good reason it’s at our no.2 in this list(I’m excluding Jane's Attack Squadron to make the Titanic reference, deal with it). Sporting a refreshing new story enveloped in a quirky Steampunk setting, countless new gadgets and enemies, a refreshing new antagonist and tons of shiny shit to steal. Thief 2 gave us the perfect stealth game, and for that we thank you Mr Spector. Now all we ask is a new Thief that isn't dog doo, The series deserves that much.
“The best Thief game in the series, wholly because of Rope Arrows” - Nick
“Stealthy sneaky shooty stealy” -Adam
Number 1 - Deus Ex
You’ll very often hear the term “Game of the year” thrown around. Either from your best friend or slapped on the front of a special edition, but one thing you almost never hear is Game of the Decade. Well there is, it’s Deus Ex.
There has never been anything quite like Deus Ex, and sadly their may never be again. It was the child of over a decade's worth of refinement, each of it’s predecessors were masterpieces in their own right. Perhaps the greatest stride in games becoming their own medium, it didn’t attempt to ape cinema or written literature, it gave the players true narrative agency and for the first time we were in the story and not just watching it.
Now for the uninitiated Deus Ex was an RPG/shooter developed by Ion Storm’s more sane division in Austin. You take the roll JC Denton, a stone faced nano-augmented counterterrorism agent, who’s pulled into a globe spanning conspiracy. The plot is linear, and the levels are pretty straightforward, the kicker is that you’re free to complete any task as you see fit. Ion Storm were clever friends placing flags and triggers for nearly every little detail. Characters will lose trust in you due to your malice, or reward you for your professionalism, hell your boss will chew you out for barging into the women's bathroom. No action goes unnoticed, no decision is without consequence. All of these minute additions give you the agency to weave Deus Ex’s plot around your given playstyle.
However the game isn’t without it’s flaws, hobbling along on the Unreal 1.5 engine, Deus Ex looked dated even for the time, along with that some mechanics didn't quite work, and others like the gunplay were broken altogether. However it all worked, just like some mad scientist’s brew each ingredient was perfectly complemented by one and another.
All in all Deus Ex is a breathtaking example of what’s possible with games and gaming, and our number one greatest game.